Children and Domestic Violence

The Facts on Children and Domestic Violence

• 15.5 million U.S. children live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year, and seven million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred. • The majority of U.S. nonfatal intimate partner victimizations of women (two-thirds) occur at home. Children are residents of the households experiencing intimate partner violence in 43 percent of incidents involving female victims. • In a single day in 2007, 13,485 children were living in a domestic violence shelter or transitional housing facility. Another 5,526 sought services at a non-residential program. • The UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children conservatively estimates that 275 million children worldwide are exposed to violence in the home.

Domestic Violence Affects Children

• A Michigan study of low-income pre-schoolers finds that children who have been exposed to family violence suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as bed-wetting or nightmares, and are at greater risk than their peers of having allergies, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, headaches and flu. • Children of mothers who experience prenatal physical domestic violence are at an increased risk of exhibiting aggressive, anxious, depressed or hyperactive behavior. • Females who are exposed to their parents’ domestic violence as adolescents are significantly more likely to become victims of dating violence than daughters of nonviolent parents. • Children who experience childhood trauma, including witnessing incidents of domestic violence, are at a greater risk of having serious adult health problems including tobacco use, substance abuse, obesity, cancer, heart disease, depression and a higher risk for unintended pregnancy. • Physical abuse during childhood increases the risk of future victimization among women and the risk of future perpetration of abuse by men more than two-fold.

What Helps Children Exposed to Violence

• Psychotherapy designed for mothers and children together can increase the quality of parenting and increase positive outcomes for children. • Many abusive men are concerned about the effect of violence on their children and the children of their partners. Some may be motivated to stop using violence if they understand the devastating effects on their children. •A safe, stable and nurturing relationship with a caring adult can help a child overcome the stress associated with intimate partner violence.